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New House Bill Would Sanction Sea Piracy

The House Foreign Affairs Committee this week plans to mark up a newly unveiled bill that would sanction foreign persons engaged in piracy.

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The proposed Sanction Sea Pirates Act, introduced by Rep. Jonathan Jackson, D-Ill., last week, is aimed at countering a surge in Somali pirate attacks that began last fall. The attacks included the March hijacking of a Bangladesh-flagged ship and hostage-taking of its crew, all later released.

The legislation says the piracy increase “has coincided with and taken advantage of Houthi aggression” in the region. Since Hamas attacked Israel Oct. 7, the Yemen-based Houthis have attacked commercial cargo vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which has “impacted global shipping markets,” the bill said.

The U.S. government “should seek to stop piracy all around the world, including off the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden,” the legislation said. “High-seas pirates, and the criminal networks and enterprises with whom they are affiliated, should be sanctioned upon identification.”

The bill also calls for working with U.S. allies and partners to combat piracy globally.

The Foreign Affairs Committee plans to take up a total of 18 measures at its July 10 markup, including a resolution that would overturn new regulations restricting firearms exports (see 2406100048), and a bill that would revamp U.S. export control processes to make it harder for China and other “foreign adversaries” to obtain sensitive technology (see 2402010080),

The committee's agenda also includes a measure stating it's no longer U.S. policy that the Missile Technology Control Regime’s presumption of denial applies to NATO and Five Eyes countries; a proposal to sanction the Popular Resistance Committees, which participated in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel; and a bill calling for sanctions on officials who undermine democracy in the Republic of Georgia.